The Road to NYC

Following their incredible journey to the New York City Marathon in November, competition winners Iain McLaren and Rachel Lewis tell us all about their marathon effort.

Photo: Leonard Zhukovsky/Shutterstock


The Lead Up

Iain McLaren: We had a far from normal lead up to this race – before winning the competition we had booked a trip to Japan for three weeks in October. There was no plan to run a marathon at that stage! We finished the heaviest part of our training program at the end of September prior to Japan, had a three week holiday (with lots of food, not as much running, and we got engaged!), and came back home for a week before flying out to NYC. It was difficult to fit a lot of running into the Japan trip so, unfortunately, we lost some conditioning.

Rachel Lewis:
At first getting out the door to train was easy, I was motivated and excited to wear the new gear New Balance had sent us. But as the long runs got longer and life stresses increased, it got harder.

Long-Haul Flights

IM: We were lucky enough to be able to upgrade our seats in Virgin to Economy X, which has more leg room. The flights weren’t too bad, but we were still very tired once we arrived; Perth is 12 hours in front of New York time so it was a complete change for the body clock.

The Training

IM: The marathon-training journey was interesting. It had been a few years since I had done a running-specific training program, focusing on triathlons, so it took my body a while to adjust to the impact pains and stresses of purely running again.

RL: I was diagnosed with right hamstring tendinopathy during my training and began an intense rehab program to load the hamstring and improve my glute strength. It was repetitive and sometimes difficult and boring. But picturing myself in New York was enough to motivate me to put in the hard work.

Essential Gear

IM: I brought my tried-and-true running gear with me, thankfully provided by New Balance as part of the prize. I had used this all throughout my training so there were no surprises on race day.

The Big Day

RL: The clocks changed that day and our phone alarms didn’t go off! Luckily we had organised a wake up call.

The Start Line

IM: [We started] with Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York” playing over the speakers. It was surreal! At that moment the heavens opened and rain came down gently which would continue for the entire race. It was special running over the bridge with Karolina, my now fiancée, and the thousands of other runners.

RL: The start line is every bit as memorable as I had read about.

The Finish Line

(IM 4:21:04; RL 4:00:53)

IM: Crossing the finish line was a moment of pure joy and relief! … All I could think about after crossing the line was, “Where’s my medal?”

Photo: Rachel Lewis


RL: I was a woman on a mission when we finally got into Central Park, I picked up the pace and was going as fast as I could. White line fever! Crossing the finish line was probably one of the most emotional moments in my life so far.

The Experience

Photo: Iain McLaren

IM: The NYC Marathon was the best race I have ever experienced! I’ve finished a few marathons and triathlons, both in Australia and overseas, and this race was something special.

RL: It truly was a 42K block party, with people all along the course cheering, providing items you might need, yelling your name, bands playing music, horns and bells ringing. It is next level. The next day everyone wears their medal and random strangers congratulate you. I was stopped on the street and thanked with a hug for running in the Marathon. You feel like a celebrity.

Lessons Learnt

IM: The first thing is probably not to take a long overseas holiday before running a marathon! We didn’t do many runs, especially long runs, in the last six weeks, which made the last 12 kilometres tough! Secondly, for a good performance it’s best to arrive early in the week before the race. We arrived on the Thursday afternoon before the Sunday race, so we only had a couple of days to adjust to the 12-hour time difference in an unknown city.

RL: You learn so much about yourself training for a marathon. It takes dedication, hard work and grit to get the job done. It makes you believe in yourself. Once you complete the marathon you feel as though no task is too big.


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